“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
Earlier this week, I found the journal that I kept over the summer. As I read through it, I noticed that I had often talked about perspective and how our perspective influences our lives, specifically our lives when we’re in the valley.
The People of the Valley
In Psalm 23, David writes about the valley of the shadow of death. From the name, we can all imagine this place wasn’t a very pleasant place to be. There were probably vicious animals and thieves and almost anything else that we can imagine in this valley. However, this valley is almost necessary to travel to in order to get to get to the other side.
There are four types of people in the valley. First, there are always the stationary people. These people are afraid, hopeless, and discouraged. They don’t see a way out of the valley so they assume that there isn’t a way out. In David’s time, these people would probably end up getting killed and never making it out of the valley.
Our lives have low points. Stationary people are the ones that just sit and complain. They don’t see a way out of their problems so they assume that not even God could help them. These people don’t make it through their trials. Stationary people are the ones who decide to just settle where they are because they see no more options.
The people who think they can do it on their own are different from stationary people. These people are the ones with pride. They think that they see the way out of the valley and only they can get them out of there. They think they can fight their way out. In David’s time, these people would probably die due to their pride.
Sometimes, we elevate ourselves to think we can do it all by ourselves. In reality, without God, we can’t do anything. The people who think they can do anything on their own are likely to fail. To be honest, these people will use anything but God to try to get out of their valley because after all, if you’re the best, why would you need God?
Some of us want God to rescue us from the valley. These people are almost in the right mind. Of course, they have faith in the right place, but they don’t want to deal with the valley. In David’s time, these people would be looking for a way around the valley and they may or may not be successful.
Sadly, a majority of Christians would identify themselves with these people. These people like the comfortable parts of Christ and life in general. Paul had this issue in II Corinthians as he asked God to take the thorn from his side. Of course, God could take the thorn from his side and it was probably preferable to Paul but it’s not what God had planned for him. God wanted him to realize the sufficiency of His grace.
These people have it right. David didn’t say “though I sit in the valley” and he didn’t say “though I walk around the valley.” David said, “though I walk THROUGH the valley.” On top that, he acknowledges God is with him. In order to make it out of the valley, you have to go through it.
When we face challenges in our lives, we need to stop being stationary, stop relying on ourselves, and stop asking God to get us out of the situation. God puts us in situations not so that we can make it out of them but so that we can make it through them. An example of this is running. If a runner skips to the finish line, they don’t reap the benefits of the run.
There are four types of people in the valley and the way they seek to overcome the valley are all different. This is all based on one thing, perspective. The perspective you have on your valley will determine the way you seek to overcome it. We must view our valley, not as an impassable obstacle but as a step that leads us on our journey. In order to make it through the valley, you have to see the other side. Changing our perspective may not change our situation, but it changes the way we approach it. This means that we no longer see problems as a mere thorn in our side that must be taken from us but as a moment to say “I will fear no evil for you are with me,” knowing that he has a plan for you on the other side.